The booming housing market is spilling into home renovation work with a 26% rise in the value of dwelling alteration consents issued in the year to May, compared with the previous year.
Latest figures from Statistics NZ show that building consents were issued for $1.34 billion of dwelling alteration work in the year to May, an all time high.
However building consents are only required for structural alterations to houses, such as removing load bearing walls or adding a room.
Simple home improvements such as repainting, replacing gutters or renovating a bathroom or toilet where no structural alterations are made, do not usually require a building consent and the cost of that work is not included in the consent figures.
Although much of the increase has been driven by the Canterbury market as repairs to earthquake damaged homes gathers pace, there has also been significant growth in structural alteration work in Auckland and the Waikato, while Wellington has gone against the trend, with a decline in the value of alteration consents issued in the capital.
Not surprisingly, the value of dwelling alteration consents issued in Canterbury has more than trebled over the last two years, from $92.9 million in the year to May 2012 to $285.1 million in the 12 months to May this year.
Over the same period the average value of alteration consents in Canterbury has almost doubled, from $35,803 to $68,410.
Although growth in the value of dwelling alterations has been less spectacular in Auckland, it remains the biggest market by far for such work.
In the year to May, dwelling alteration consents worth $549.4 million were issued in Auckland, up by 26% on the year to May 2012, and the average value of Auckland's alteration consents was $110,275.
The value of alteration consents has also risen strongly in the Waikato, increasing by 32% to $82.4 million in the year to May.
However in Wellington, the home improvement market appears to have been sluggish over the last year, with alteration consents worth $139.9 million issued in the 12 months to May this year, compared with $156 million in the previous 12 months and $136.4m in the 12 months to May 2012.
The average value of alteration consents issued in Wellington in the year to May was $52,811.
Real Estate Institute of NZ chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said the increase in alteration consents in Auckland may indicate that more people are choosing to stay in their existing homes and renovate them to add value and move up the property ladder, rather then sell up and move to another suburb.
"People think they can't afford to get off the property ladder because they won't be able to afford to get back on," she said.
"So they might spend $100,000 on their existing place and not have to move."
That could be a contributing factor to the relatively low number of sales in Auckland compared with the last market peak in 2003 to 2004, she said.